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Published: Tuesday, 5/7/2013

Driver guilty in October fatal crash


A Toledo native who was behind the wheel the night his best friend died in a car crash pleaded no contest Monday to one count of aggravated vehicular homicide.

Joshua Pelton, 26, was found guilty by Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Myron Duhart. He faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced June 18.

Pelton, who was living in Savannah, Ga., at the time of the crash, was westbound on the Anthony Wayne Trail in Maumee on Oct. 19 when his car went off the road and struck a tree, killing his passenger, Kenneth Tesznar, 25, of Toledo.

J. Christopher Anderson, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, told the court Pelton had come up to Toledo for a wedding that evening. Pelton was driving inbound on the Trail about 10:50 p.m. when he made a U-turn at Detroit Avenue and lost control on the rain-covered street.

“He went off the north side of the road onto the grassy area, where the [car's] black box indicated he was going 64 mph,” Mr. Anderson said. “He tried to overcompensate a couple times, and eventually, the car slammed into a tree on the passenger side.”

Mr. Tesznar, who was not wearing a seat belt, died from his injuries Oct. 27 at the University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio Hospital.

As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors said they would ask the court to dismiss a second count of aggravated vehicular homicide alleging Pelton was intoxicated at the time of the crash, as well as a charge of improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle accusing him of having two loaded handguns in the car. Prosecutors also said they would not oppose a future request by Pelton to seal case records.

When asked whether the victim's family and investigating officers had agreed to the plea, Mr. Anderson told the court the victim’s family did not want Pelton to be prosecuted at all and that Maumee police, who investigated the crash, had consented to the plea agreement.

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